World Digest: Dec. 30, 2013

December 30, 2013
AFGHANISTAN
Karzai rejects U.S. intelligence forecast

Afghanistan on Monday rejected as baseless a U.S. intelligence forecast that the gains the United States and allies have made in the past three years will be significantly eroded by 2017. President Hamid Karzai’s spokesman dismissed the U.S. forecast, reported by The Washington Post over the weekend, and suggested an ulterior motive.

“We strongly reject that as baseless, as they have in the past been proved inaccurate,” Aimal Faizi said, suggesting that the leaking of the report was intended to press Karzai into granting the Taliban control of some areas to promote peace efforts. “If it’s a design to hand over parts of Afghanistan to the Taliban, we will never allow that, and it will never succeed,” he said.

The U.S. National Intelligence Estimate also predicted that Afghanistan will fall into chaos if Washington and Kabul fail to sign a pact to keep an international military contingent there beyond 2014. The Obama administration is seeking permission from Kabul to keep troops that would carry out counterterrorism and training missions.

— Reuters

CONGO
Assailants strike
TV station, airport

Armed assailants attacked the state television station, airport and main military base in Congo’s capital, Kinshasa, early Monday in what many feared was a coup attempt, officials and witnesses said. Lambert Mende, Congo’s government spokesman, said about 40 people were killed in the attacks, including 16 at the military base, 16 at the airport and eight at the TV station. He also confirmed that shootings had occurred in Lubumbashi, located in southeastern Congo.

The assailants at the TV station said they wanted to broadcast a message on behalf of Joseph Mukungubila, a fringe evangelical preacher in Congo. The signal to the TV station was cut before they could do so.

Mukungubila confirmed that his followers were behind the coordinated attacks, but he said his disciples were armed only with sticks and faced the automatic weapons brandished by the country’s security forces. He said his faithful were acting out of anger after two boys in his congregation were attacked by security forces in Lubumbashi over the weekend.

— Associated Press

CHINA
Police shoot eight
in ‘terrorist attack’

Chinese police fatally shot eight people during a “terrorist attack” in the western region of Xinjiang, the government said Monday.

The attack happened in Yarkand county close to the old Silk Road city of Kashgar in Xinjiang’s south, the regional government said in a statement on its news Web site. “At around 6:30 a.m., nine thugs carrying knives attacked a police station in Kashgar’s Yarkand county, throwing explosive devices and setting police cars on fire,” it said. “The police took decisive measures.”

Xinjiang is home to a Turkic-speaking Muslim people known as Uighurs, some of whom want more autonomy from Beijing. At least 91 people, including several police officers, have been killed in violence in Xinjiang since April, according to state media reports.

— Reuters

Christian villages attacked in Nigeria: Suspected Islamist extremists targeted two Christian villages in mainly Muslim northeast Nigeria and killed at least 12 civilians, including guests at a wedding reception, witnesses said Monday. A security official confirmed the attacks but did not have casualty figures. The attacks came after Abubakar Shekau, leader of the Boko Haram terrorist network, issued a statement threatening violence.

China says Japan’s leader is not welcome to visit: Beijing accused Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of hypocrisy and said he would not be welcome in China after he visited a shrine in Tokyo honoring Japan’s war dead, the latest sign of worsening ties between the two nations. Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said that Abe’s visit to the Yasukuni Shrine had seriously hurt relations between the countries and shut the door to dialogue.

Iraqi lawmakers resign to protest police action: More than 40 members of Iraq’s parliament submitted their resignations to protest the clearing by police of a Sunni sit-in in Ramadi. Authorities cleared the site after protesters agreed to end their months-long demonstration after talks with the Shiite-led government, an official said. Meanwhile, clashes nearby reportedly left 10 dead.

— From news services

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